A new £1 million fund to increase and diversify domestic tree production has been unveiled by the Forestry Commission and Defra.
The Tree Production Innovation Fund will encourage the development and adoption of new technologies and ways of working that will ensure the quantity, quality and diversity of planting stock available for tree planting in England.
It follows the launch of the the England Trees Action Plan which aims to treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament. The UK as a whole has an overall target of planting 30,000ha per year.
The fund will support nurseries to increase and diversify the domestic supply of young trees to facilitate an increase in tree production while maintaining biosecurity, helping to reach planting targets.
Applicants will be invited to apply for up to £200,000 in grant funding to support projects designed to address one or more of the following challenges identified through stakeholder engagement as barriers to tree production.
• Making better use of available seed and vegetative planting material to maximise the quantity, quality and diversity of trees produced
• Developing growing systems to enhance their efficiency and resilience to change, whilst delivering improved quality and diversity of product
• Using innovative environmentally sustainable weed control solutions to reduce reliance on herbicides
Forestry Commission chairman William Worsley said: “I fully believe forestry needs to embrace new technology, and in turn we need to develop technology that can support the future of forestry.”
He added: “By enhancing the quantity, quality and diversity of planting stock available now, it will help our trees to be healthy and resilient to the impacts of changing climate and increasing threats from pests and diseases into the future.”
The Forestry Commission says it will welcome applications new entrants to the sector. The application window closes at 11.55pm on 8 September 2021.